Editor's Note: House Representatives Ralph Long (D-Atlanta) and Simone Bell (D-Atlanta) are set to battle for a seat in Georgia House of Representatives that would represent portions of Midtown, Virginia-Highland, Inman Park, downtown and many southeast and southwest neighborhoods.
Bell, 43, and Long, 36, are forced to run for the same seat — District 58 — after legislators redrew district boundaries statewide last year.
Bell, a consultant, has represented District 58 for three terms.
Long, a real estate broker, currently represents District 61, which includes portions of southwest Atlanta. He has served in the Georgia General Assembly for four years.
The Democratic Primary is set for July 31. The winner will face Republican and Midtown resident Earl Cooper in November’s General Election. Here, Cooper takes time to share some of his views concerning the district.
Someone the other day asked me why am I running. I shared with him that District 58 needs and must change. I believe it's time that the local representative step beyond the state capitol walls and start dealing with some of our local needs and issues. Locally I can't just stand by and let:
1) Crime continue to rise (families don't feel safe in their own homes)
2) Unemployment keep rising
3) The school-to-prison pipeline continue; student dropout [rate] keep rising
I believe it’s time to roll up your sleeve and fight for this district. The truth of the matter is people are looking for leaders with a plan. I have a plan and I have laid out a three-point plan for our success:
The 58th district will be the first to feel and see the benefits from my leadership. Not a special interest group…but the interest of my district. Not my political party…but the district I represent. Not my person gains…but the gain of my neighbor.
There are some laws I would like to help change:
1) Changing the law that makes transparency difficult with schools
2) Company’s willing to relocate to Georgia from other states will have equal incentive and tax breaks for choosing a site inside of Fulton County, as well as outside of Fulton
I believe my day-to-day focus must be on our communities by dealing with:
A) The homeless problems in our community. When our cars are broken into and damaged, it drives our insurance up. When they break into vacant houses to steal and sleep, it drives the value of our community down. We must hold the city and court accountable for following through by upholding the laws. We must allow agencies and businesses with the capacity to take over and find them temporary-to-permanent housing, etc.
B) Young adults loitering, selling drug and panhandling in front of the local store. We must pressure store owners, landlords to be more accountable and take oversight for the community, etc.
C) School closings, overcrowding, dropout rates, the school-to-prison pipeline and just weak leadership in the public school system. We must restore transparency and an oversight committee. Encourage parents to show up regularly and be a part of their local schools, etc.
D) Business and economics. Growth starts with creating a strong graduate pool so companies can look forward to the young creative class to work and run their business, etc. Companies willing to relocate to Georgia from other states will have equal incentives and tax breaks for choosing a site inside of Fulton County, as well as outside of Fulton.